You may be wondering if there are certain types of food that can trigger cancer.
The answer is yes.
Smarter Health has gathered answers from multiple credible sources, such as the National Cancer Center Singapore and HealthXchange Singapore. We have compiled the results under the categories of nutritional recommendations and dietary restrictions for cancer patients and survivors.
That said, we still recommend you consult a cancer specialist doctor (oncologist) to learn more about foods that are recommended for cancer patients.
Nutritional Recommendations For Cancer Patients and Cancer Survivors
Carbohydrates are a source of nutrients that act as your body’s fuel during cancer treatment. Not all types of carbohydrates are recommended for cancer patients.
There are at least three types of foods that contain carbohydrates:
- White bread and white rice, contain simple carbohydrates.
- Nuts, wheat, and vegetables, contain complex carbohydrates.
- Honey, sugary drinks, and candy, contain sugar (also includes carbohydrates).
Once digested in the intestine, carbohydrates will be broken down into sugar.
When sugar enters the blood in your body, it will increase your blood sugar, which triggers the body to produce insulin. Insulin serves to regulate blood sugar. However, if you have high levels of insulin, you may develop cancer.
Therefore, patients diagnosed with cancer are advised to consume complex carbohydrates. Since complex carbohydrates take longer for the body to digest, it will enable the blood sugar levels to be under control and maintain insulin levels.
The following are foods that contain complex carbohydrates:
- Brown rice.
Apart from foods that contain complex carbohydrates, cancer patients are also advised to consume honey in moderate amounts. Honey has both antibacterial and antifungal properties, which can help prevent infection.
Cancer patients require higher levels of protein. This is because protein has amino acids, which have the ability to repair body tissues and maintain the immune system. Consuming adequate levels of protein can help speed up the recovery process and prevent infection.
Although it plays a beneficial role for your body, you should not consume too much protein. Harvard Medical School recommends a maximum daily protein intake of:
- 56 gram for men
- 46 gram for women.
However, these numbers need to be based on the patient’s age, weight, and calorie needs. You can consult a nutrition specialist to learn more about the amount of protein you should consume daily.
Consumption of too much protein can increase the risk of high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and kidney stones, weight gain, as well as constipation and diarrhea.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are very beneficial in maintaining your body’s immune system, repairing damaged body tissue, and helping your body form energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Vitamins and minerals can be found in many fruits and vegetables.
The following fruits and vegetables are recommended for cancer patients:
- Asparagus — rich in antioxidants.
- Green vegetables — rich in iron and calcium.
- Bitter pumpkin — can lower blood sugar levels.
- Tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, turnips, peas — rich in vitamins and fiber.
- Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower — can convert bad estrogen into good estrogen, which reduces the risk of cancer.
- Oranges — rich in vitamin C.
- Guava, avocado, raisins, prunes — a good source of energy.
- Mangoes, strawberries, bananas, kiwi, pears, peaches — rich in vitamins and fiber.
Water is a vital component for our body. If you do not drink enough fluids in a day, your body will not receive the nutrients that it needs. Additionally, your body temperature will not be controlled, and you will have problems with bowel movements. Cancer patients are more prone to dehydration, especially if they experience vomiting and diarrhea.
It is better if you consume water that is stored under room temperature. Avoid tea, coffee, or any other drinks that are not classified as ‘mineral water’.
Foods That Should Be Avoided by Cancer Patients and Cancer Survivors
Cancer patients are recommended to avoid the consumption of:
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Foods containing preservatives, such as processed pickles, jam, and so on.
- Foods containing high sugar levels, as sugar may fuel the growth of cancer cells.
- Foods containing high salt levels not only trigger cancer, but also high blood pressure and heart problems.
- Processed meats such as sausages, ham and bacon contain carcinogens that trigger the growth of cancer cells
- High doses of vitamin supplements. Vitamins with higher doses have antioxidants that may potentially interfere with chemotherapy.
- Foods in high oils can not only trigger cancer, but also cause bacteria imbalance, diabetes, obesity, and other diseases.
- Fried, grilled, or roasted meat. When animal protein is exposed to high heat, it can produce carcinogens, which are substances that cause cancer. You are recommended to eat foods that are cooked by steaming, boiling, or stir-frying.
Cancer patients require a lot more balanced nutrition. At the same time, cancer cells can also produce hormones that cause loss of appetite and make you feel full.
While this food guide can serve as a reference for cancer patients and survivors, it is still highly recommended you continue to consult a cancer specialist doctor (oncologist) regarding the diet and nutrition that are best for you to consume. For doctor recommendations and appointment-booking, you can get in touch with us at Smarter Health.